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Public Housing

Housing SA is South Australia's public housing authority which delivers housing related services through a network of regional offices throughout the State. Part of the Department of Human Services, Housing SA incorporates the former South Australian Housing Trust, Aboriginal Housing Authority and South Australian Community Housing Authority.

Public housing is targeted to those people in most need. To be eligible applicants must meet a range of criteria including an income and assets test and/or a needs test.

Housing SA also provides for some specific purpose housing programs and services.

Legislation

South Australian Housing Trust Act 1995 (SA)

Contacts

Telephone: 131 299


Telephone lines are open from 8.30 am – 5.30 pm Monday to Friday


Callers outside South Australia


Telephone: 8207 0211

Tenants' Information and Advisory Service (TIAS)


Provides free independent support to tenants in the public, private and community rental markets. Includes tenants in private rental properties and clients of Housing SA, the Aboriginal Housing Services, Housing Associations and Cooperatives. Support includes advocacy on tenancy issues such as tenancy rights and responsibilities, application processses for private and


public rental, neighbourhood disputes, evictionsbond assistance, complaints, debt and home purchase.


Telephone: 1800 060 462

The waiting list

As demand for Housing SA housing is very high there is a waiting list for people applying for housing and for current Housing SA tenants requesting a transfer. The waiting list is divided into four categories, with applications placed into the category which best reflects the urgency of housing need:

  • Category 1: applicants with urgent housing need (e.g. homeless) and long-term barriers to accessing or maintaining private housing options.
  • Category 2: applicants who aren't currently in urgent housing need but have long-term barriers accessing and maintaining private housing options.
  • Category 3: applicants who don't have urgent housing need or long-term barriers to other housing options.
  • Category 4: tenants who register and are approved for a transfer, but don't pass the needs test in line with the transfer policy.

Housing SA's stock of housing in some localities is limited, which can mean longer waiting times for those areas.

An applicant’s refusal of a second offer of housing will result in their application being deferred for two years, reverting to the bottom of the category or being moved into another category on the waiting list.

For more information, see the Housing Trust policies on the South Australian Department of Human Services website, in particular the policies on eligibility and registration and allocation.

Rents

Housing SA is required to set rents at market levels, which are determined by reference to the Valuer General. However, reduced or rebated rents are provided for low income households to ensure affordability.

Every Housing SA home has a full rent set which is the maximum rent that may be charged for that home. The full rent of a property is based on the market rate and this is reviewed each year. Tenants who cannot afford the market rate pay a reduced amount.

Tenants who pay reduced rents are required to provide Housing SA with proof of their income on a regular basis, and reduced rents are adjusted in line with increases in income.

Private rental assistance

Some financial assistance (for bonds, rent in advance and rent in arrears) is available to households renting in the private rental market . More information about this assistance is available from Housing SA via the sa.gov.au website.

Which legislation applies

While most conditions for Housing SA tenancies are governed by the South Australian Housing Trust Act 1995 (SA), some sections of the Residential Tenancies Act 1995 (SA) also apply. These sections specifically relate to matters such as quiet enjoyment of premises, security of premises, conduct by the tenant and termination and eviction by the landlord.

The relevant sections of the Residential Tenancies Act 1995 (SA) that apply to Housing SA tenants are:

  • how the Tribunal hears and mediates disputes [Pt 3 and Pt 8, Div 3 and 4]
  • quiet enjoyment by the tenant [s 65]
  • relating to locks and security of premises [s 66]
  • behaviour of tenants, see: unacceptable conduct by a tenant [ss 71 and 90]
  • termination of tenancy on application by landlord (for serious breach including repeated failure to pay rent) [s 87]
  • termination of tenancy based on domestic abuse, see Intervention orders and terminating a tenancy [s 87A]
  • dealing possession orders and the enforcement of those orders [ss 93 and 99]

Most importantly, where problems and disputes arise, matters are heard by the South Australian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (SACAT).

See Resolving tenancy disputes.

Conditions and types of tenancy

Housing SA requires each tenant to read and sign a standard 'Conditions of Tenancy' form before moving into the home. This is a contract which binds both Housing SA and the tenant to observe a clearly stated set of responsibilities.

Housing SA requires each new tenant to begin with a 12 month probationary lease. If tenants show that they can keep to the conditions of their lease agreement, they may then be offered a fixed term lease of either one, two, five or ten years. If tenants fail to keep to the conditions of their lease agreement, but could benefit from further support to do so, they may be offered a further 12 month probationary lease.

For more information, see the Housing Trust policies on the South Australian Department of Human Services website, in particular the policy on probationary and fixed term lease agreements.

Although Housing SA tenancies are not subject to all of the provisions of the Residential Tenancies Act 1995 (SA), the conditions of Housing SA tenancies are broadly consistent with those applying in private sector tenancies and, where possible, Housing SA complies with the spirit of the Act. See Which legislation applies for more information about the relevant residential tenancies provisions.

Maintenance and repairs

Housing SA will normally carry out and pay for repairs resulting from fair wear and tear. It is important that tenants notify Housing SA as soon as any repair is needed.

Urgent repairs, such as a gas leak or burst water pipes, may be reported at any time by telephoning 131 288.

Non-urgent repairs may be reported by telephoning 131 288 between 7am and 7pm or by using the online report form.

The tenant must pay the cost of any repairs which, in Housing SA's opinion, are not the result of fair wear and tear. The tenant is also responsible for keeping the dwelling in good rentable condition. This means that the tenant must pay the cost of repairs to damaged windows, screens, fences and gates, of clearing blocked drains and of replacing plugs, light globes or lost keys. Where damage is caused by the tenant's family or visitors Housing SA will also require the tenant to pay.

Tenants may wallpaper interior walls, lay floor coverings and hang pictures. However, the tenant must repair any damage caused by doing these things. Trust officers are available to advise tenants on appropriate methods and materials. The tenant must have Housing SA's approval before making any additions or alterations to the premises.

More information on maintenance and repairs is available from Housing SA, via the sa.gov.au website.

Moving to another property

Housing SA required move

If Housing SA considers that the property provided to a tenant is no longer appropriate to the tenant's needs it can ask the tenant to move to another property. They may also be asked to move if the property needs to be vacant for maintenance or redevelopment to take place [see South Australian Housing Trust Act 1995 (SA) s 39A]. In this situation Housing SA tries to negotiate an acceptable housing alternative with the tenant and may cover reasonable costs such as those of a removalist. See the Housing Trust policy on relocation on the South Australian Department of Human Services website.

Applications for transfer

A tenant who has been living in their present home for at least three years can apply for a transfer to a vacant property. Housing SA may approve a Category 1 or 2 transfer where the tenant is at risk or has at least one tenancy issue (such as a need to be closer to medical supports) and where their current accommodation is unsuitable in the long term. See the Housing Trust policy on transfers on the South Australian Department of Human Services website.

Tenant exchanges

Housing SA also operates a scheme through which approved tenants can exchange properties, but this will only be approved if the properties involved are appropriate to the needs of the exchanging tenants. Tenants approved for an exchange must also accept responsibility for a deposit for the new property and the costs of any necessary repairs on their present home that are not the result of wear and tear. See the Housing Trust policy on tenant exchange on the South Australian Department of Human Services website.

More information on relocation, transfer and tenant exchanges is available from Housing SA (see Transfers and Relocations under the Public Housing section of the sa.gov.au website).

Ending a tenancy

Tenant ending the tenancy

A tenant may end their Housing SA tenancy when they provide at least 14 day's written notice to Housing SA or when they receive a final intervention order prohibiting them from living in their Housing SA property.

Housing SA ending the tenancy

Housing SA may end a tenancy if:

  • the lease agreement comes to an end
  • the tenant breaches the conditions of their tenancy and Housing SA issues a notice of termination
  • the tenant doesn't leave the property after receiving a final intervention order prohibiting them from living at the property
  • the South Australian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (SACAT) terminates a tenancy and/or makes an order for possession

Housing SA will give the tenant a notice to remedy breach and termination first and then, if necessary, apply to the South Australian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (SACAT) for an order for possession.

Housing SA or another interested party may also apply to end a tenancy if the tenant's conduct is unacceptable, such that it interferes with the reasonable peace, comfort or privacy of another person residing in the immediate vicinity, it is a nuisance or it is illegal [see ss 71 and 90]. See Unacceptable conduct by a tenant.

More information on ending a tenancy is available from Housing SA (see Ending a public housing tenancy under the Public Housing section of the sa.gov.au website).

See also the Housing Trust policies on the South Australian Department of Human Services website, in particular the policies on disruptive behaviour and ending a public housing tenancy.

Intervention orders and terminating a Housing SA tenancy

Where a tenant has committed domestic abuse against a person who normally resides at the premises or where an intervention order has been issued against a tenant for the protection of a person who normally resides at Housing SA premises, the tenancy can be terminated [Residential Tenancies Act 1995 (SA) s 89A(2)]. Alternatively, the tenancy can be terminated and replaced with a new one without the alleged perpetrator of the domestic abuse as a party. Orders can also be made to determine liability for any damage caused as a result of an incident of domestic abuse and to refund the bond accordingly. Applications must be made to the South Australian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (SACAT). See Resolving Disputes.

It is also Housing SA's policy to terminate a tenancy if the tenant doesn't leave the property after receiving a final intervention order prohibiting them from living at the property. For more information, see the Housing Trust policies on the South Australian Department of Human Services website, in particular the policies on domestic abuse and ending a public housing tenancy.

Appeals

Housing SA clients may apply for review of decisions made in relation to their tenancy to Housing SA. There is a two stage appeal process set out in the South Australian Housing Trust Act 1995 (SA) [ss 32A, 32C and 32D].

What decisions can be appealed?

SA Housing decisions that can be appealed include:

  • rental applications (including Housing Needs Assessments)
  • debts (e.g. maintenance charges, rent arrears)
  • tenancy matters such as rent assessment, probationary tenancies and transfers
  • maintenance requests (e.g. disability modifications, floor coverings, removal of trees)
  • bond and rent assistance

The review officer may recommend that the original decision be overturned if it is satisfied that the decision has not been made in line with Housing SA policy.

What things cannot be appealed?

The appeal process does not deal with:

  • disputes between neighbours
  • complaints about things already subject to proceedings before a court or tribunal, such as termination and eviction (see Ending a tenancy)
  • government policy itself, as opposed to how the policy has been applied
  • complaints about Housing SA staff, as opposed to decisions made by Housing SA staff

Overview of the appeals process

There are two stages of review for public housing appeals.

1st stage : Internal Review

A review is conducted internally by a Housing SA officer/s. At the end of the review, the applicant must be given a written statement setting out the outcome of the review and the reasons for the decision (unless the decision is in favour of the applicant, in which case reasons are not necessary) [see South Australian Housing Trust Act 1995 (SA) s 32C].

An application for internal review can be lodged at any stage. However, decisions made before 1991 cannot be appealed.

Generally an applicant will be notified of the outcome within 28 days. See the Housing Trust policy in relation to appeals on the South Australian Department of Human Services website.

An application can be lodged using the Public Housing Appeal Form with relevant supporting documentation attached.

2nd stage : Independent Review

An applicant dissatisfied with the outcome of an internal review may apply to the South Australian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (SACAT) for the independent review of the decision [see South Australian Housing Trust Act 1995 (SA) s 32D].

Applications to review the following decisions must be made within 7 days of being given the written statement setting out the outcome of the internal review [South Australian Housing Trust Regulations 2010 (SA) reg 8]:

  • a decision not to renew a tenancy
  • a decision to terminate a tenancy
  • a decision relating to the transfer of the tenancy to another family member of the tenant
  • a decision relating to rent assistance or bond where Housing SA is not the landlord

Applications for the review of any other decision must be made within 30 days.

Who can help with my appeal?

Tenants' Information and Advisory Service (TIAS)


Provides free independent support to tenants on low incomes in the public, private and community rental markets. Support includes advocacy on tenancy issues such as tenancy rights and responsibilities, application processes for private and


public rental, disputes, debts, evictions, and appeals processes.


Telephone: 1800 060 462


Website: http://www.syc.net.au/tias/overview/

    Public Housing  :  Last Revised: Tue Jun 26th 2018
    The content of the Law Handbook is made available as a public service for information purposes only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for legal advice. See Disclaimer for details. For free and confidential legal advice in South Australia call 1300 366 424.